A Culinary Twist: Fundraising Cooking Classes

The most scrumptious way we can think of for nonprofits to raise funds is with cooking fundraisers. Cooking fundraisers are popular because people love to cook. Even more so, they love to eat!

If your community loves sampling different types of foods, we have five finger-licking cooking fundraisers up our oven mitts that your organization can take advantage of.

Cooking Classes

Holding a cooking class is a great way to sizzle up some funds for your organization. You can do this one of two ways:

  1. Approach a local cooking school and ask them if they would create a custom cooking class for your fundraiser. The great thing about this option is that the cooking school will take care of all the supplies and ingredients. All your cooking students will need to do is pay their fee (part of it will go to the school and part to your charity) and show up ready to cook. If you choose to go with a local cooking school, check online or in your local phone book for cooking schools or classes.
  2. Ask an accomplished cook from your organization to teach people how to make a family favorite. If you go this route, you’ll need to shop around for food and other supplies before you set your class fee to make sure you are raising enough funds to cover the cost of all of your ingredients while still raising money for your cause. Depending on the class size, you can make the event a cozy one by holding it in a group member’s home. A generous kitchen and a whole lot of hospitality is all that’s needed.

Cooking with a Celebrity Chef

Another variation of the cooking class is to partner with a local culinary celebrity to teach your cooking class. This person can be a well known chef at a local (and popular) restaurant, or the Home-Ec teacher at your local high school. If you don’t have a local culinary expert on hand, you can ask the mayor, fire chief, a local television host, or even a well respected elder.

With a celebrity chef event, you raise funds through ticket sales. Students can be charged per person, and you can also host a cooking-related silent auction or raffle and put some cookware or accessories up for grabs.

Selling Cookbooks

A locally created and designed cookbook can be a tasty way to fundraise for your charity organization. One of the very best things about doing a cookbook fundraiser with the community’s help is that it’s a great social event that introduces people in the community to each other through your organization.

Many people will be tempted to buy a community cookbook, especially if it features closely-guarded family favorites. But remember, setting a theme for your cookbook can help keep things organized and relevant. For instance, you can build a cookbook around an upcoming holiday, or keep things general with an easy-to-cook recipe book, feature all desserts, regional favorites, comfort food recipes, or just about anything you think will appeal to your buyers.

Most importantly, make people aware that you’re selling your cookbook as a fundraising event and feature information about your charity in the cookbook.

Chili Cook-offs

A chili cook-off is a great local fundraiser with a bit of competitive spirit involved. And it’s very popular, not only with the competitors, but with chili samplers too!

To hold a successful chili cook-off, you need to gather a group of willing chili cooks. Fortunately, many people boast about a favorite chili recipe, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Get your chili cooks to sign up and send them “save the date” e-mails a few weeks before the day of the event. Since a chili cook-off draws a crowd, it’s a great excuse to feature additional money-making items such as a raffle, silent auction, bake sale, or craft sale that will help your charity raise even more money.

You can also feature another type of complimentary tasting alongside your chili. Think a salsa or hot sauce tasting to cap off your rootin'-tootin' chili event.

Local Eatery Tasting

A great cooking event that will be sure to draw the entire community and free publicity for all of the restaurants involved is a local restaurant tasting event. This type of event features some favorite menu items for local restaurants and their star chefs.

Getting local restaurants involved shouldn’t be that hard when they get word about the free publicity. The only other thing you’ll need is a large space to accommodate chefs and the community.

This event raises money through ticket sales per item sampled. For instance, folks can try three dishes for $10, or five for $15. You will certainly make your money as people look forward to trying food from the different restaurants in their community.


  1. Mamik says:

    My name is Mamik. I come from Semarang Indonesia. My husband and I want to build a cooking school to help students from poor families to have a better life. There are so many students can’t have chance because their parent did not have money. They have to work to help their parents. We have been tried to find donation to help our mission to give a hope for thwm to have a better future from our cooking school. I hope we still can continue our mission even the condition is getting harder day by day. Please feel free to ask me further about our cooking school.


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